(ANTIGONISH, N.S.) StFX freshman quarterback Bailey Wasdal (Calgary, Alta.) showed he is ready for the AUS as he led his team to a 30-24 come-from-behind victory in overtime over the Acadia Axemen Friday night.
Wasdal punched in the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard carry to give the X-Men the victory in front of over 1,000 enthusiastic fans in the newly renovated StFX Oland Stadium. The play came after the StFX defence shut down the Axemen's scoring attempt in overtime and Jarett Saumure (Timberlea, N.S.) missed a 35-yard field goal attempt.
When it was the X-Men's turn with the ball running back Jordan Socholotiuk (Waterford, Ont.) churned out yards for StFX on consecutive carries, earning three first downs to set up Wasdal's touchdown.
Wasdal had previously connected with Socholotiuk on the game-tying touchdown which came with under a minute to play in the game. The fifth year running back had a 20-yard gain to set up his own two-yard touchdown run two plays later.
Socholotiuk finished with 138 yards on 22 carries.
The Axemen held leads of 3-1, 10-8 and 17-10 after each quarter before the X-Men reversed their fortune in the final frame.
The only scoring in the first quarter came off a single rouge point for the X-Men and a Saumure 21-yard field goal nine minutes into the quarter.
The Axemen took advantage of an X-Men fumble midway through the second quarter as they gained possession on the recovery at the X-Men's 39-yard line. After a couple of running plays to Dale Wright (Markham, Ont.), Acadia quarterback Hunter Guenard (Calgary, Alta.) handed off to Glodin Mulali (Moncton, N.B.) who ran the ball in for a nine-yard touchdown score.
The X-Men struggled to regroup on the ensuing drive as the Acadia defence came up big with a sack on Wasdal for a loss of 12 yards, leaving them pinned in their own end.
StFX mounted a drive late in the opening half and moved the ball quickly down the field, culminating in a touchdown by all-Canadian receiver Kaion Julien-Grant (Toronto, Ont.), his first of two touchdowns on the night. He hauled in an 18-yard pass from Wasdal with only eight seconds left on the clock.
Acadia led 10-8 at halftime.
They added to their lead with a 12-play, seven-minute drive to start the third quarter that resulted in a five-yard touchdown run by second year running back Wright, his first major of the 2018 season.
The only other scoring play of the quarter came with 1:24 left as the Axemen conceded a safety, holding onto a 17-10 lead after three quarters.
Julien-Grant's second touchdown came one minute into the fourth quarter on a highlight catch in the end zone, hauling in a 26-yard Wasdal pass in double coverage to knot the game at 17-17.
The Axemen replied on the very next drive with a couple of big plays to set up Wright for his second touchdown of the game. After a 48-yard kick return by Mulali and a 46-yard reception by Cordell Hastings (Calgary, Alta.), Wright caught a five-yard pass from Guenard to give the Axemen back their seven-point lead at 24-17 with 11 minutes left in the game.
Axemen defensive lineman Anderson Recker (Stillwater Lake, N.S.) had a key sack on Wasdal for a loss of 14 yards that stopped an X-Men drive midway through the fourth quarter.
The X-Men rookie quarterback remained calm under pressure, however, as he rallied the X-Men offense with under a minute to play and connected with Socholotiuk for the four-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 24-24 with only 40 seconds left on the game clock.
Wasdal himself had several key rushing plays throughout the game for the X-Men to gain key yardage, finishing with 52 yards on nine carries. In the air he was 21 for 32 with 200 yards. Julien-Grant was his favorite target with 10 receptions for 108 yards with two touchdowns.
Wright had a big running game for the Axemen with two major scores, tallying 144 yards on 25 carries. Hastings pulled in six catches for 113 yards and Guenard finished 10-22 with 147 total yards.
On the defensive side of the ball fifth year veteran defensive back Dylan Bell (Brockville, Ont.) came up with several key tackles and had 10.5 total on the night.
Axemen linebacker Bailey Feltmate (Moncton, N.B.) had seven tackles for the visitors while Brandon Johnston (Orilla, Ont.) added 6.5.
With the win the X-Men improve to 1-1 early in the AUS season as they head into a bye weekend. They will next see action at home on Sept. 15 when they host Bishop's.
The Axemen (0-1) will look to even their record as they head to Lennoxville, Que. on September 8th to also kick-off against Bishop's.
Source: StFX Sports Information